As Sam Allardyce beat a shame-faced retreat from Wembley after being forced out as England manager, his place as a punchline in the national team’s ever-expanding hall of shame was already etched in stone.
Allardyce had coveted the England post for decades and proudly hailed his appointment in July as an overdue chance to seize the spotlight after being denied a crack at one of the Premier League’s top clubs.
Yet like so many who came before him, the 61-year-old has discovered why managing England has been described as the ‘impossible job’, a ‘poisoned chalice’ and now, undeniably, a laughing stock after his departure only one match and 67 days into a dream job that quickly turned into a nightmare.
Given the unrealistic expectations attached to the England job, it’s hardly surprising few get to leave with their heads held high.
But something about the experience of pulling on a tracksuit with the Three Lions badge seems to induce astonishing lapses in judgement from England’s managers.
From Steve McClaren’s wally with the brolly denouement to Sven Goran Eriksson’s dalliance with a fake sheikh via Glenn Hoddle’s extraordinary views of reincarnation, there is rarely a dull moment for those who chronicle the men in the England hot-seat.
Even by those farcical standards, Allardyce’s astonishingly rapid fall from grace seems especially fitting in its self-inflicted arrogance and needless naivety.
Surveying the damage done to a once prestigious post, former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand summed up just how pitiful the national team now looks in the eyes of the world.
“The rest of the football community around the world will be laughing at us. The England role has become comical,” Ferdinand said.
“This was a man who was passionate about getting the job. He forced the FA to act.
“Naivety seems to be the word coming up. It’s disappointing for English football.”
Allardyce had been appointed to replace Roy Hodgson after England’s miserable Euro 2016 campaign ended with a shock last-16 exit against minnows Iceland.
Hodgson, a decent man whose only crime was being over-promoted, departed in abject misery after being forced to endure a painful grilling in his exit press conference.
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